Rivers Turmoil Intensifies as Wike, Fubara Enter Full Conflict Mode

The political turmoil in Rivers State escalated further last week, with escalating tensions between opposing factions.

The state’s All Progressives Congress (APC) leadership called on legislators to initiate impeachment proceedings against Governor Siminalayi Fubara.

Fubara’s former mentor and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, expressed regret over his choice of successor.

Speaking at a Rivers event, Wike sought divine and communal forgiveness, admitting to a lapse in judgment.

“I must admit, we all err. I’ve erred. I acknowledge my mistake and seek God’s mercy. I implore everyone’s forgiveness, with a promise to rectify this at the right time,” he stated.

Wike encouraged his legislative allies to resist any coercion, assuring them of their positions.

“Don’t yield to fear. Your seats as legislators are secure. Our task is to instill apprehension in them, which I’m actively doing. Their constant errors are a result of their frustration,” he declared.

Governor Fubara’s Chief of Staff, Mr. Edison Ehie, promptly retorted, pledging that Fubara would deliver a political masterclass to his adversaries.

Ehie linked the state’s unrest to a battle over resource governance.

“We’ll demonstrate a lesson in political calculus. The impact of what that young man (Fubara) will have on you will reveal the true difference in strength,” Ehie asserted.

“The contention in our state stems from a group of 11 individuals who claim dominion over the state’s resources, enlisting 20 more to distribute these resources among themselves,” he explained.

Recent developments indicate that the factional legislators are adhering to Wike’s instructions.

The DAILY POST remembers that the now-inactive legislature had previously defied the governor by passing several bills believed to undermine Fubara’s authority.

In a countermove, a Rivers State High Court prohibited the pro-Wike speaker and 24 other legislators from assuming their roles in the assembly.

Earlier, Fubara mandated the immediate transfer of the assembly’s operations to the Government House in Port Harcourt, where Victor Oko-Jumbo and two other loyal legislators are to perform their duties.

This directive was formalized in the state’s official Gazette, Executive Order 001-2023 of the Rivers State Government.

The order followed shortly after Oko-Jumbo’s emergence as the new factional speaker.

The DAILY POST recalls Fubara’s earlier declaration that the assembly members, under Speaker Rt. Hon. Martins Amaewhule’s leadership, were effectively non-existent.

Fubara acknowledged his participation in numerous reconciliation efforts aimed at resolving last year’s political discord, which were rejected by the opposing faction, to which the state’s legislators belong.

This standoff began when the assembly failed to approve certain requests from the governor, who in turn is accused of withholding approval from already passed bills, thus ending the peace agreement mediated by President Boka Tinubu on December 18, 2023.

In an attempt to resolve the ongoing political strife, Fubara, Wike, and other key figures, including the Rivers PDP chairperson Aaron Chukwuemeka and assembly Speaker Martin Amaewhule, signed a resolution document following a meeting with Tinubu last December.

Observers of the situation in Rivers suggest that the contents of this resolution have been discarded as both sides have resumed hostilities.

The catalyst for the recent conflict

The DAILY POST learned that the latest clash was sparked by the enactment of the Rivers State Local Government (Amendment) Bill and the governor’s refusal to endorse it.

On March 13, 2024, the assembly passed the bill and sent it to Governor Fubara, who declined to sign it.

Defying the governor, the assembly, led by Speaker Hon Martin Amaewhule, enacted the bill into law during its 159th Legislative session at the Assembly Quarters in Port Harcourt.

The intent was to prolong the tenure of the Local Government chairmen, all of whom are aligned with former governor and FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike.

The DAILY POST reports that these chairmen, governing the state’s 23 local government areas, are due to leave office on June 17, 2024, upon the expiration of their terms.

An insider informed the DAILY POST that the assembly members, particularly the 27 loyal to the FCT Minister, sought to extend the chairmen’s term by at least six months through the amended legislation.

The source, requesting anonymity, speculated that the governor’s refusal to sign was part of a strategy to appoint caretaker chairmen loyal to him, thereby ousting those aligned with Wike.

“The governor’s objective seems to be the replacement of current officials with his own appointees before any elections. This underpins the ongoing confrontations with the assembly, particularly concerning the Local Government chairmen,” the source alleged.

The source also suggested that any attempt by the governor to appoint caretaker chairmen might trigger his immediate impeachment.

Amidst this, the PDP and APC have exchanged accusations over the impeachment calls for Governor Fubara.

While the APC criticizes the governor for disregarding the separation of powers and abusing his position, the PDP maintains that the 27 legislators seeking Fubara’s impeachment have effectively forfeited their seats due to defection.

The APC’s case for Fubara’s impeachment

The Rivers State APC spokesperson, Ikenga Chibike, expressed to the DAILY POST that the impeachment demand is essential for restoring order, accusing the governor of authoritarianism and interference with the assembly and local government chairmen.

Chibike elaborated on the impeachment rationale, stating, “We advocate for his impeachment due to the governor’s tyrannical behavior. He has shown contempt for proper procedures and has been confrontational towards the assembly and local government chairmen.”

He recalled the president’s intervention in the dispute between the executive and legislative branches, which resulted in a set of directives.

“In the document, the lawmakers were asked to withdraw their impeachment notice, which the assembly has graciously done.

“The governor was also asked to present the budget before the properly constituted assembly headed by Hon Martins but the governor refused.

“The governor had planned to hijack the responsibility of the assembly. All the bills that were passed, the governor decided to withhold his assent.

“The assembly decided to override him and he took offense and decided to intimidate the assembly by declaring that 27 members do not exist.

“So we called for the impeachment of the governor so that we can have a responsible person who can take care of the state.”

Asked why the APC was concerned over the crisis in the state citing the fact that the two major actors, Wike and Fubara are both members of the PDP, he said, “the 27 lawmakers are members of our party, so we must stand and defend their interests.

“Secondly, because Fubara is the governor of Rivers State doesn’t mean he should govern only PDP members. He is the governor of Rivers State and that includes those in his party, those in the opposition party and those who are non-partisan.

“We are interested because the crisis affects our people and it affects the development of our state.”

On the alleged move by the governor to appoint caretaker chairmen for the 2023 local government areas, the APC spokesman said, “I will not be surprised if the impunity continues. I won’t be surprised because the governor has again proclaimed another faction of the state assembly.

“These are the signs of impunity and I won’t be surprised if the governor continues on that line.

“It was on the basis of the fact that the tenure of the current chairmen will elapse on the 17th of June that the assembly asked the executive to conduct elections so that we can have democratically elected chairmen.

“The assembly gave the Chairmen six months extension to enable the governor conduct the election.

“If the election had been conducted before the expiration of their tenure, there wouldn’t be any need for extension.”

Lawmakers with legibility issues can’t impeach Gov Fubara – PDP counters APC

In a counter reaction, the spokesman of the PDP in Rivers State, Sydney Gbara told DAILY POST that the 27 lawmakers loyal to the FCT Minister lacked the power to impeach the governor.

According to him, “the truth is that the impeachment is not possible.

“In the first place, the 27 lawmakers have eligibility issues because they defected from the PDP to APC when there was no crisis in the party.

“Ordinarily, they are not supposed to be acting except for the presidential intervention which the governor signed and accepted to recognize the Martins’ faction.

“You know at that time, we had two factions. We had the Martins’ faction and the Edison Ehie’s faction which was recognized by a court of competent jurisdiction.

“Edison would have gone ahead to function as the Speaker that is recognized by law which has not had a contrary judgement up till today.

“Because of the governor’s stance for peace, he told Edison to resign to give way to the other faction to operate.

“So they have only been operating by the lifeline given by the governor of Rivers State, His Excellency Siminalayi Fubara but they abused the privilege. Day in, day out, they continue to push out one retrogressive law or the other against the state.

“They have been causing legislative nuisance in the Rivers State politics.

“They are only for their selfish interest and that of their pay master. The governor has pronounced them non existing and the pronouncement stands.

“Today, we have a new Speaker, Hon. Victor Oko Jumbo. He has been sworn in to continue from where Edison stopped. The new assembly is the legally recognized 10th assembly in the state.

“This is why I said the impeachment cannot work. They are illegally occupying the seats. They were there on the lifeline of the governor and since the governor has withdrawn that, they cannot function.

“The Rivers Youths have vowed that they will besiege wherever they seat to pronounce any impeachment against the Governor.”

On the allegation that the new Speaker emerged to enable the governor to appoint caretaker chairmen in the 23 local government areas, the PDP spokesman said, the new faction emerged because “Martins’ faction had laid siege on the governor and the people of the state. Nothing is working.

“The government is moving in a mechanical and arithmetic progression when they are supposed to be acting in geometric progression.

“House of Assembly in other states are making laws for the development of their various states. With or without them, the government has to move on.

“That is why we now have a government recognized assembly that will work with the government for the betterment of the state.”

Meanwhile, President Bola Tinubu has told the political actors in Rivers that he would not take sides in the ongoing crisis.

Tinubu, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, said that anyone with the belief that President Tinubu would take their side in the political crisis would be disappointed.

The Special Adviser made the President’s position known during an interview on TVC, insisting that Tinubu won’t allow any attempt to frustrate the Rivers government.

“I believe that anyone who believes that by their actions, whether it’s from the Federal level, State level or the legislative branch in the State or the executive branch in the state, if they are banking on Mr. President to take sides on this matter, they’re mistaking and they’ll be disappointed,” he said.

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Ilesanmi Adekanbi

Ilesanmi Adekanbi, writers and loves writing the story of politics, He is a movie addict. Adekanbi is a Senior Content Creator at Newsflash Nigeria contact me on email: [email protected]

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